“I lived for music since I could think.”- Hugh Masekela
An African legend trademarked by his trumpet, the news of this jazz gurus death has ripped our hearts apart. South Africa’s state broadcaster SABC, reported Hugh Masekela‘s death today, stating that he had succumbed to prostate cancer. Bra Hugh revealed his condition late last year and also took a sabbatical from performances to fight this aggressive disease.
Masekela was born in Witbank, South Africa in 1989 and from a young age, he exhibited his musical ability through the piano. However, Father Trevor Huddlestone introduced him to the trumpet and this led to Hugh joining South Africa’s first youth orchestra, the Huddlestone Jazz Band. From there, his growth was astronomical including collaborations with other artists and being part of the successful South African-Broadway style King Kong.
He, however, went into exile after the 1960 Sharpville Massacre committed by the apartheid government and settled in London studying there for a while before leaving for New York. In New York, Harry Belafonte helped Bra Hugh settle in at the Manhattan School of Music. This is the time in which he churned out most of his hits including the 2018 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee Grazing In The Grass. Bra Hugh returned to South Africa in the early 90s and continued to lead social commentary through his music. He recorded and toured for the remainder of his life, securing his place a true African music icon.
This champion of Pan Africanism will always be remembered for his contribution in shaping South African music and indeed African music. His selfless dedication to activism saw his rise as a voice of the people, a true hero. His trumpet will play on through the immortal music he left us.
Lala ngoxolo baba!